4 girlfriends Sept trip to NAPA
hey fellow foodies! my sister, best friend and her sister are travelling to Napa for a 4 night escape in Sept. we would really appreciate any advice on what not to miss. this will be a first time trip for all of us. coming from chicago and NYC, we are ALL foodies and are up for anything...cheap, expensive, casual, fancy, crazy, chill...just as long as there is good food and wine involved. thanks in advance!
In Napa, Oxbow Market good place to stroll, several restaurants and places to drink wine. In Yountville, Bottega (Italian), Ad Hoc (Thomas Keller's family style restaurant), Bouchon and Mustards which is just up the highway a mile. In St Helena 9 miles further north Cook(Italian), and Martini House. As far as wineries probably some 300 to choose from but make sure 4 ladies hit at least one sparkling wine spot. Domaine Tattinger is in Carneros just before arriving in Napa. Chandon is in Yountville and on Silverado trail towards St Helena is Mumm. Thats a start and a good one.
My favorites are Terra, Meadowood, and Martini House. Redd is good also, but not as good as 2-3 years ago. Ubuntu is lovely. Ad Hoc is great.
Mustards has lost their main chef, some of the kitchen staff, and their pastry chef,
so I wouldn't recommend it. Its former glory and culinary prowess are gone.
Not at all a fan of Oxbow Market. I was there last night, and it resembles the food court of a mall -- modern urban building -- that could be in any city. The food is so-so, but the reason that Oxbow strikes me as wrong for visitors is that it makes so much more sense to dine in the lush countryside of Napa Valley, among the grapevines and beauty, and the extensive panaroma of green. Not in the city of Napa so much, unless it's at night. That generally means Yountville and north.
I do recommend a bubbly wine stop. My favorite is Schramsberg by far. Mick had the name of the Carneros bubbly house slightly wrong -- it's Domaine Carneros, but owned by Taittinger.
Bouchon is out for group your size, since the only good service is at the bar (truly, the seating area is horrible).
Love the rec of In 'N' Out for a burger -- check out their secret ordering language on their website: 3 x 3 protein style, animal style, etc. Visiting a taco truck is fun -- we're known for burritos out here, but each taco truck in the SF Bay Area has its individual great items...do a search.
Taylor's Refresher ahi tuna burger is wonderful. The burgers aren't. Kind of a fun scene in St. Helena.
When you visit a winery, be sure you're polite and listen -- wineries are very wary of groups of females -- they have a tendency to be loud and get drunk. Just so you know.
There are a huge number of posts on what's good in Napa, if you'd like to do a search.
The French Laundry is of course the recognized mecca, if you can get a table (easier lately with the economic downturn). But it's almost impossible to go wrong anywhere else also. Overall my favorite otherwise is Redd, also in Yountville. Bouchon is OK in my opinion, but must stop in at Bouchon Bakery. I'd second the spontaneous goodness of Ad Hoc. My other favorites include Terra in St. Helena, Meadowood, Tra Vigne for casual Italian, Martini House, and Mustard's Grill for one dish, the pork chop.
Yountville: Super high end The French Laundry is about as good as it gets; also expensive. Redd would be my next choice. Bouchon is good, too. Bistro Jeanty last summer was very good as far as food goes but the service was just adequate-if that. Mustards and Brix area also good places for lunch or dinner. Terre in St. Helena is excellent. Auberge has a fabulous view and really good/ excellent food every time I've been there (4+) but it doesn't seem to get the props by reviewers or boards.
Agree with Auberge. I had one of the most memorable lunches of my life on their terrace overlooking wine country. The food, the ambience and the service made it almost surreal. Pricey, but worth it.
Allegria in downtown Napa has tasty, reasonably-priced Italian food in a lovely, lively environment (just tried it on a visit there last week). I also really enjoyed a lunch at Bistro Don Giovanni. It's a beautiful restaurant, and you can dine on the flower-studded patio overlooking lush vineyards.
We also had a great lunch at St. Helena Market restauarant, if you get up that way.
I managed to get reservations at the French Laundry on a previous trip to wine country, and personally would not do that again. The food WAS special, but I found the ambience to be prim and stuffy and the waitstaff to be an uncomfortable combo of pretentious/obsequious. Overall, $650 for two with one bottle of wine and two cocktails seemed a bit steep for the experience.
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In St. Helena, Go Fish is great for cocktails and sushi, Cook is where the locals eat, and Martini House is the best all around. Try Taylor's for burgers or Villa Corona for Mexican. Happy Dining!